Older furnace and boiler systems had efficiencies in the range of 56% to 70%. Now heating systems can achieve efficiencies as high as 97%, converting nearly all of the fuel to useful heat. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy site “upgrading can often cut your fuel bills and your furnace’s pollution in half. Upgrading your furnace or boiler from 56% to 90% efficiency in an average cold-climate house will save 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year if you heat with gas, or 2.5 tons if you heat with oil.”
From US Department of Energy
So while there are certain obvious indicators that it’s time to consider replacing heating and cooling equipment, or improving the performance of your overall system—it’s no longer working, needs continuous service and is at the end of it’s life expectancy, etc.—others are not so obvious and it may be time to call a professional contractor to help you make a change.
Consider this check list:
Excerpt from Energystar.gov
Your heat pump or air conditioner is more than 10 years old.
Consider replacing it with a unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR label. Installed correctly, these high-efficiency units can save up to 20 percent on heating and cooling costs.
Your furnace or boiler is more than 15 years old.
Consider replacing with an ENERGY STAR qualified furnace, which is 15% more efficient than a conventional furnace. If you have a boiler, consider replacing with an ENERGY STAR qualified boiler that is 5% more efficient than a new, standard model.
Your equipment needs frequent repairs and your energy bills are going up.
Your cooling or heating equipment my have become less efficient.
Some rooms in your home are too hot or too cold.
Improper equipment operation, duct problems or inadequate insulation could be the cause.
No one is home for long periods of the day and you do not have a programmable thermostat.
Install a programmable thermostat or have a good contractor install one and instruct you on its use — to start saving energy and money while they’re away or sleeping.
Your home has humidity problems.
Poor equipment operation, inadequate equipment, and leaky ductwork can cause the air to be too dry in the winter or too humid in the summer.
Your home has excessive dust.
Leaky ducts can pull particles and air from attics, crawl spaces and basements and distribute them throughout your house. Sealing your ducts may be a solution.
Your heating or cooling system is noisy.
You could have an undersized duct system or a problem with the indoor coil of your cooling equipment.
That means your energy use at home is above average and you’re probably paying more than you need to on energy bills.
Information about Furnaces, Boilers, Heat Pumps, and Air Conditioners that have earned the ENERGY STAR.
If you are a Vermont Gas customer you may qualify for a free energy audit of your home or business. In some cases, the program offers assistance in covering the costs associated with the improvements. The end result however is even minor improvements in homes can make a major difference.